Feature: The rebirth of Doncaster Boys
A generation of young footballers never got the chance to represent Doncaster Boys – and no one really knows why.
But thanks to a group of football enthusiasts, the town’s representative teams are back in action after almost two decades of inactivity.
Doncaster Schools Football Association was revived last year and now offers the best players not signed up to academies the chance to pull on the town’s orange jersey.
It was a re-birth which stemmed from a chance conversation between a former Doncaster Boys player and a man who knows junior football in the area inside out.
“I run a team at Scawthorpe Scorpions and I just got talking to Ernie Oliver, who worked as head of recruitment for Doncaster Rovers’ academy,” recalled Sean Perkins.
“Ernie’s in close contact with Steve Gates, who runs South Yorkshire Boys and Barnsley Boys and Girls.
“It was just a general conversation really.
“Sheffield Boys were up and running, Barnsley Boys were up and running, and there are a number of other district teams not far away from Doncaster up and running. So I was wondering why Doncaster Boys wasn’t.
“Ernie came back to me and asked if I’d be interested in getting it back up and running again. I was well up for that.”
Perkins, a former semi-professional footballer who represented Doncaster Boys at each group, was appointed under-11s coach.
Paul Burke, the last person to represent England Schoolboys from the Doncaster district, took on the under-12s.
Darren Senior and Shaun Tetley coach the under-13s and under-14s respectively.
“We're not sure why it disbanded,” said Sean.
“We're based at Balby Carr Academy, where we play most of our matches, and all the affiliations go through there and a gentleman called Duncan Milligan.
“Duncan heads up the administrative side of Doncaster Schools so I asked him.
“He's asked a few people but he could never find out why it stopped in the first place. All he could find out was that about 18 years ago it stopped, for whatever reason.
“That's a long time ago and I was really shocked.
“When I was playing in the mid to late 90s it was running and everything was fine. They had everything in place and a committee.
“I've spoken to a lot of people since and they were all of the same opinion, shocked it had stopped.”
He continued: “It's all about getting boys from Doncaster playing district football again.
“We started from scratch. We had very little money in the pot which came from school affiliation fees into the central pot.
“We've had to get four teams up and running and we've had to get trials out there.
“I personally contacted every school I possibly could to notify them that Doncaster Schools football was coming back to the district and could they send their most talented boys for trials.
“I got one response from one school and that was it.
“So I went through the back door and contacted all grass roots coaches and see if they could send players.
“The take-up wasn't great but given it was short notice I expected it.
“It was a similar thing with the other age groups.
“I wanted this to be about grass roots and not kids who were already in the systems at academies, so I was adamant on selecting good quality grass roots kids.
“So we selected our squads and from there Duncan's got us into league and cup competitions.
“We've had to go out and get all sponsorship ourselves, for kits, training kit, etc.
“It's been a tough challenge up to now but I'm hoping, having gone through that initial 12-month process, things will get a bit easier going forward.”
Doncaster Boys are back in competitive action this season against the likes of Scarborough, Hull, East Riding, York, Leeds, Harrogate, Sheffield, Barnsley and Nottingham City.
“What you find in my age group is that they're adapting from seven-a-side football to nine-a-side football, which has proper football rules like offsides and things like that,” said Sean.
“That's been a bit of a challenge for them.
“We have found it difficult at times this year to win games but 90 per cent of our performances have been competitive.
“So we've not looked out of place, which has been very good.
“I've tried to put some wheels in motion for next season already,” he added.
“I've put some trial dates down for a lot earlier. We’ll try and get a bigger pool of players to come down and have some good sessions.
“We'll look to set some goals for next season and see if we can improve and take it to the next level - maybe look to form a committee.”
For more information email [email protected]
Facebook: Doncaster Schools Football Assocation
Bryan Gryszkiewicz - Plover
Ben Jones - Tranmoor
Riley Trowbridge - Barnby Dun
Harrison Duncan - St Wilfred
James Benford - Morley Place
Oliver Bardell - Bawtry Mayflower
Josh Smith - Norton
Wilfey Woodham - Norton
Lewis Graham - Shaw Wood
Kenzie Fowler - Kirk Sandall
Finnlay Perkins - Sunnyfields
Dylan White - Estfield
Luke Schofield - Wadworth
Oliver Bowes - St Josephs
Joe Lynskey - Bentley High Street
Philip Sekowski - St Josephs
Rylie Murphy - Mallard
Diyar Mahmud - Kirk Sandall
Under 13s squad
Sahan Erdal - Hayfield Academy
Ben Haines - De Warenne
Issac Sprenger - Hill House School
Brandon Mee - Sir T Wharton
Ralphy Smethurst - Sir T Wharton
Ryan Tweedie - Hayfield Academy
Thomas Hicks - Outwood Adwick
Adam Driver - Sir T Wharton
Justin Bennett - McAuley
Thomas Burgon - McAuley
Bailey Buzzard - Hungerhill School
Aston Dunstan - Sir T Wharton
Rylee Grove Capt - Sir T Wharton
Travis Senior - Sir T Wharton
Krzysztof Yarosz - Hayfield
Tom Worley- Mexborough
Drew Fitzgerald - Sir T Wharton
Harry Daniels - Trinity Academy
Under 14s squad
Mathew Dale - Hayfield
Anton Rafferty - Hayfield
Harrison Boot - Hayfield
Edward Bond-Upton - Hayfield
Oscar Wales - Rossington Comp
Declan Chivers - Rossington Comp
Roman Antoniw - Macaulay
Alex Young - Macaulay
Rocco Calzini - Macaulay
Aidan Tomes - Macaulay
Reece Tye - Danum Outwood
Bobby Price - Outwood Adwick
William Collingwood - Norton
George Cooper-Smith - Sir T Wharton
Jacob Swales - Ridgewood
Kian Docherty - Hall Cross
Ashton Jacques - Ash Hill